Individuals Thrive When Their Need For Connection Is Met By Human Touch
Have you hugged your senior loved one, or others that you care about, today? Pegasus specialists in Duarte and elsewhere know the value of making human touch a part of caregiving. They know that most individuals respond positively to appropriate physical contact.
Healing physical contact is platonic. It may be affectionate, but it is never sexual. A hug or other touching must be stopped immediately when requested.
Hugging is a common way to show affection to someone. Typically, it involves putting your arms around an individual and drawing them close to you. If your senior loved one is bedridden or in a mobility device, modify your hug as needed for their comfort.
Skin is a sense organ. Unlike the five other senses you may be familiar with, skin is essential for survival. It not only holds the body together, touching the skin is a way of communicating.
Part of what makes human touch so compelling is its role in communication. Scientists know that individuals can communicate emotionally via touch. People are able to distinguish the following with a high degree of accuracy:
Science has proved that the human brain is innately able to recognize more than the physical sensation of touching.
A hug comforts and consoles. Words often aren’t enough when someone is grieving, even when you can come up with the right words. A hug or a light pat on an arm or shoulder soothes without words.
Touch Is The Most Important Sense That Humans Have
The sense of touch is the first sense to develop in babies. Babies that aren’t touched may “fail to thrive” and often don’t do as well as their peers later. Lack of touching in children and adults leaves them feeling isolated.
Humans are by nature social creatures. Touch connects. That’s true even when the contact is so light that the individual isn’t aware of it.
Touching conveys trust and security. You may discover benefits of touching if you are a caregiver for a senior loved one with cognitive impairments. Studies show that it helps them relax, feel less depressed, and connect with you.
One study involving seniors showed that loneliness has a negative impact on longevity. It also increases the risk of developing dementia. Individuals who are “touch deprived” experience more depression than those who receive frequent physical contact.
Touching Creates Connections That Reduce Loneliness
Touch reduces the isolation and loneliness individuals feel. Feeling connected to others reduces stress. Personal contact creates an essential connection and increases longevity.
A hug or a gentle touch helps the body release “feel good” hormones including dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Oxytocin especially increases feelings of bonding and closeness.
Increases in dopamine and serotonin work to relieve anxiety and depression. Along with oxytocin, they boost the immune system. Other benefits include:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Stimulated memory process
- Improved range of motion
- Increased circulation
- Reduced tension
- Reduced spasms
- Reduced pain
The benefits of human touch serve to increase the well-being of your senior loved one.
Experts recommend gentle contact. Softly stroke your loved one’s cheek or arm. Lovingly wrap your arms around their shoulder.
Recognize also that not everyone is receptive to healing touch at all times. Be observant. If your senior recoils, stop.
Depending on the circumstances, you may need to ask their permission to touch them. Don’t just grab their hand or arm. Most individuals like to be in control of their personal space.
Extend your hand and allow them to reach out to you. Make eye contact. Maintain awareness of their body language.
Keep in mind that the person doing the touching receives the same benefits the recipient receives. Any time you touch someone, you improve your own health. It’s a win/win situation because the better you feel, the better your caregiving is.
Try A Massage
Massage is a time-honored way of touching. Gently massaging your loved one relaxes you as well. It doesn’t have to be complicated, as even lightly squeezing their limbs improves circulation.
You may not be able to give your senior loved one hugs or a massage. One solution is providing a professional massage. Pegasus caregivers can assist in arranging an appropriate masseuse.
As the benefits of human touch become more known, individuals have sought “professional touchers.” These include masseuses as well as:
- Physical therapists
- Practitioners of Gestalt, Rolfing, the Alexander technique, and Feldenkrais
- Martial arts experts
Pegasus caregiving services include specialists such as these or we assist you in finding qualified experts.
Scientists have also noted that most humans engage in a lot of self-massage. Touching themselves calms them even though they are usually unaware of their actions. Examples include:
- Flipping their hair
- Rubbing their foreheads
- Kneading their hands
- Stroking their necks
A self-hug feels good and relieves your stress.
Pegasus Cares About You And Your Loved One
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregiving professionals in Duarte and our other locations are devoted to keeping individuals living independently at home. Our home health care services are always available for your loved one for whatever level of care is needed.